Tuesday, November 12, 2013

I get it, we're different.

I haven't posted in a while because once we actually got a court date in Uganda we went underground with our updates for our security and just general privacy about our case.  That being said, we are now home from Uganda with our little boy, Jonah, and are a happily transitioning family of four!  Part of that transition clearly includes the fact that Jonah is black and we're white (sshhhhh....don't tell anyone).  In our (short) time home we've already experienced the looks, the stares, the hush hush of comments, etc.  I'm ok with it.  We knew it was coming.  I don't think you can really prepare yourself for it but at least we had an awareness it would be there.

The first week we were home my husband and I took our new son to the school where my husband teaches. He works at a predominantly black middle school in a nearby city to ours.  After we visited his fellow teachers, we decided to go to Cookout (a fast food place) close to his school.  As we're sitting in the drive thru with the windows down I see the kid working the window turn around and say something to the girl to which she mouthed "black baby" with a shocked look on her face.  Now don't get me wrong, I get it.  This is not something you see everyday.  And we were in their neighborhood.  But from there she did everything she could to look and then found a reason to come to the window to ask us "would you like ketchup with your order" just so she could see for herself.  By no means does this upset me.  I just don't really want people taking turns looking and staring like we're a circus act. I get it, we're different.

My son is a minority.  Not only because of his skin color but because of the skin color of his parents.  He will have to deal with racism like I have never or will never experience.  He will have to deal with parents who he KNOWS doesn't understand the extent of what he's dealing with.  On top of that, he will have to deal with people continually questioning his family because he doesn't look like the rest of us.

Every white person in the world should have to go spend time in a place where they truly are the minority.  I know I didn't experience even a portion of what he will in his life.  But everyone should have to at least know what it feels like to be stared at because you're different, feel out of place because no one looks like you, feel like people are burning into you with their eyes wondering what you're doing there or if you just found yourself in the wrong place, feel like your safety is constantly in question because you don't know who you can and can't trust.

It's not like these are new concepts.  The fact that every time I question what we're watching on tv because there's no one in the sitcom/cartoon/movie that's black.  The fact that I am constantly thinking about if/when we move what school district we'll be in to ensure there is a diverse population.  The fact that regardless of who or what I thought about the Trayvon Martin case, a young black boy is dead.  I do want this responsibility and everything that comes with it.  These are things that SHOULD concern me because my son is black and I want the best for him.  But here's the thing.  Even if you're white.  Even if you don't have a black kid.  Even if you don't know one single person of another color in.this.whole.world.  These things should concern you too.